Building capsule wardrobes feels second nature to me now. I have been making them since 2015 and I have a rhythm and system that works for me.
As I share this rhythm and system with you, know that you can adjust and bend this to make it work for you.
When I started building capsules, I followed the wonderful guide that Caroline Joy lays out in her blog Unfancy. I started with 35-37 items a capsule, and now I hover somewhere around 25 items. There is no perfect number, you need to do what makes the most sense for you, not what suits someone else.
That being said, I know it can be helpful to have a guide to follow. Here are my steps, process, and guide to building my capsule wardrobe. I hope it helps get you started, without boxing you in or limiting you.
If you try this, PLEASE tag me in your outfit posts on Instagram! Or hashtag #simpledaysbonnierae, and I’ll find them.
Step 1 – Imagine
A capsule wardrobe without a vision or a vibe is nothing. When you are working with such a small number of items in a wardrobe, you need to like the items you choose. If you choose a bunch of items that are great in theory but you actually hate wearing or don’t fit the season you are in – what’s the point!?
It’s time to hop on Pinterest or your saved image section of Instagram to find outfits you love for the season you are entering. Here was the inspiration for Fall 2020, I am still searching for the perfect clog.
As you search and grab images, be open to new styles. Try to move quickly and save the images that speak to you. Maybe one post is about the top, another one is the shoe. Start compiling without judgment and without limiting yourself. Who knows, an entirely new style might emerge!
If you have never made a capsule wardrobe before, it is now time to follow the KonMari method with your clothing. In short, take every single item of clothing you own and pile it on your bed or in your living room.
When I say every item, I mean it! Check your car, your closets, your attic, your garage. Every jacket and shoe and sock and glove better be on that pile! When you have it all together, it’s time to sort. According to KonMari, you must hold each and every item and ask yourself if the item sparks joy for you or not.
Does it make you smile? Does it make you light up? Do you envision taking this piece with you into the future?
If you get stuck, return to step 1. Look at your planning and your vision, does the item you are holding fit in? Is it part of the life and person you are creating? If yes, keep it. If not, thank it for its service and let it go.
Your capsule will be dependent on your lifestyle and where you live.
I am able to dress casually at work, and Virginia experiences all four seasons. So when I plan for fall, I take this into account. I look at average temperatures across the season where I live. And I plan for any special events I may need to dress up for.
I have a separate capsule for conferences and special work events, and a mini capsule for loungewear. Exercise wear and lounge clothes are not part of your day to day capsule.
Tackle one thing at a time. If you are planning for Fall 2020, take the out of season clothes that remain after your declutter and store them. I place mine in two protective containers and store them in a closet.
With all that remains, you are already forming your capsule. Take a second look and make sure that your items are all joy sparkers.
Next, assess what you need. Maybe you need a great pair of vintage jeans and a scarf. Maybe you gave away some boots that you didn’t love and are in need of a new pair. Go back to your inspiration board and look at what you loved. What are you missing and what will you replace it with?
When I shop, I stick to Madewell and Poshmark. I only look for what I need. I only shop a few times a year, when forming my new capsules. I also set a budget. This will look different for everyone. Your budget and your needs should be realistic. And most of your capsule should come from what you already have.
The fashion industry is a huge polluter and contributor to human rights abuses. Do your best to use what you already have, without holding onto items that no longer suit you. A balance that will come easier each time you build a capsule.
Tips and tricks
– Use what you already have.
– Do not skip the planning stage – it will make each step after that much easier.
– Be flexible with the number of items in your capsule, try not to compare yourself to others (if you NEED a number, try to stick to 33-37 items.)
– Get inspired by other resources (Unfancy and Project 333 are two of my favorites.)
That’s it! Be sure to follow my Instagram for outfit posts and Q&A’s – and please share your capsules and outfits with me!
It’s been exciting and hard. Tiring and exhilarating. Stressful and beautiful. Hopeful and worrisome.
But we’ve done it. We’ve taken two homes and two lives, that arguably were simpler and less stressful apart, and we’ve combined them.
He let go of living alone and embraced becoming a family. Miles and I let go of being just us two, and let someone else into our secret club.
Pets and clothes and furniture and rugs and books- coming in and going out to make sure we agree on all that remains.
This house is right. It’s the next right thing in a series of things.
I have always known deep within me that I do not want neighbors. Here, we are part of a community, but when I step out my door I see mountains.
I see rolling hills and plenty of trees. I see cows and pigs and chickens and goats. I embrace cool breezes and weep at the sight of the bright stars.
Max and Miles burst out the door with no worry of cars or strangers or watchful eyes.
I feel closer to myself. One step closer to my wild.
I feel endlessly proud of how far I’ve come and excited about how much farther I have to go.
I won’t be captured. I won’t be tamed. But I can share my wild.
We are not more or less complete as a pair. We have simply decided to let each other in.
I won’t be captured.
We are all filled with a longing for the wild. There are a few culturally sanctioned antidotes for this yearning. We were taught to feel shame for such a desire. We grew our hair long and used it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of Wild Woman still lurks behind us during our days and our nights. No matter where we are the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed.
“It is a serious thing, just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.” Mary Oliver
I am sitting down to write and I feel…. one million different things.
We are capable of feeling so many things at once. I think it’s why we’re able to post one thing to Instagram and then in a flash, be on the floor weeping about someone else’s pain. About the pain in the world. But then, I am holding my baby, breathing in his scent and reveling in his warmth.
I post about capsules, and plants, and love, and hope and it’s all real. It’s all true and beautiful and part of me. But it is not all of me.
I am also going to therapy. Learning to love and accept each and every part of myself. I am moving. Cleaning and decluttering and breathing through the stress and the joy of this new adventure.
I am donating. I am being an imperfect advocate, trying to share when I feel it’s needed, but not perform or share without doing.
We are too often boiled down to one thing. How are you today? Only captures one facet of us.
How am I today? I am alive. I am grateful, and angry, and exhausted, and hopeful. I am wicked and powerful, I am gentle and kind.
You contain multitudes, dear one. You are of earth and stars and your ancestor’s stories. You carry a whole world inside of you, yet you live in a world that wants you to be uncomplicated and okay.
You don’t have to be. You don’t have to be okay, or just one thing. You are more than that.
This week, I am planning my fall capsule. I am being a mommy to my beautiful boy. I am moving and working and thinking. I will laugh, I will cry, I will get mad and I will forgive. I will get mad and be forgiven.
There is no limit to what we can do and be, anyone that tells you otherwise is lying.
“And I say to my heart, rave on.” also, Mary Oliver
I will never have children, I don’t want to be a mom, I kill every green thing I touch, I will never get divorced, I will stay in the same job for ten years, I can’t do it alone, I am not that type of person – one who reaches for more.
Growing was change and change was scary. The pain of staying the same became comfortable. It became what I knew.
But then, from deep within, there was a rumble. A rumble that turned into a spark, a spark that lit a fire, a fire that could not and would not be contained.
I tried. I tried telling myself it wouldn’t work out. Why do you want to change, Bonnie? It would hiss. Trying to push me back down into comfortable silence. Shaming me for my efforts.
But I had already seen too much. I had seen pain and joy and hope and loss. I had felt it all before and survived it. Turned it into something more. And so, I quieted the hiss and released the fire.
I let it burn down my whole life and self. The pretty picture I had curated, gone in a flash of bright white light.
It was painful. After all, life is painful.
But in the end, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.
It is time for this old way of being, this comfortable painful way white people have been living, to go.
The rumble is too great to ignore now. It is time to let it burn things down, to awaken anew.
Do not stay behind. Come with us, join with us to grow and change. To become more. We are capable of so much more.
Do not repeat the things you used to say. Let them burn with the old, to make way for the light.